Relationships among work-family interference, conflict, and health risk outcomes in attorneys: Moderation by dispositional optimism and perfectionism

Date of Completion

January 2007


Psychology, Clinical




The present study considers the relationships among work-family interference, and physical health, psychological health, and health risk behaviors. A mediation model proposed that these relationships among work-family interference and health outcomes would be mediated by strain-based work-family conflict. Two moderation models were also proposed. In those circumstances in which the mediation model was not rejected, it was proposed that optimism, perfectionism, and gender would moderate the relationships among strain-based work-family conflict and health outcomes. When the mediation model was rejected, it was proposed that the hypothesized moderators would alter the relationships among work-family interference and health outcomes. Data were collected from 236 practicing attorneys (61% female) on-line, as well as in-person. As a whole, the men and women in this sample reported fairly similar experiences in terms of overall stress levels, work-family stress, strain, psychological health, health risk behaviors and personality traits. They also were about average compared to their counterparts nationally in terms of their overall psychological health. The overall findings suggest that attorneys who have difficulty balancing work and family life are at a significantly greater risk of experiencing strain and decreased psychological well-being. While most findings apply equally to men and women, there is some suggestion that women attorneys who report the highest levels of external family-interference-with-work also experience the lowest levels of psychological well-being. The findings also suggest that strain-based work-family conflict is most influential as a mediator between internal work-family interference and health-relevant outcomes. With regard to dispositional traits, the findings strongly suggest that "bad" perfectionism exerts a pervasive direct negative influence on the psychological well-being of the attorneys in this sample. Maladaptive perfectionism also interacts with high levels of external- and internal-work-interference-with-family, such that attorneys reporting more "bad" perfectionism and who experience the highest levels of work-to-family interference are the most susceptible to poorer psychological health outcomes. In addition, optimism appears to provide a strong buffering role for attorneys who report the highest levels of internal work-interference-with-family, although the manifestation of this relationship differs based on gender, with the greatest buffering effect being evident for men. ^